Martin Wesley-Smith's

baby shot


in 1956 or so


in 1988 or so


mw-s old pic


mw-s new pic


an incomplete ramble through miscellaneous events, performances etc...

2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 bottom
separate files: 2008 2007 2006

* Dec 16 2005: In 1994, ancient trees now called "Wollemi Pines", long thought to be extinct, were discovered near Sydney. They have been named after prominent environmentalists, including Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho in Timor Leste. Earlier this year, local residents Sam and Janet Cullen attended an auction of saplings propagated from cuttings from the parent trees, buying - for $5000 - one that came from the Carvalho Tree. Today they presented it to Kangaroo Valley. It will be a reminder of the connection between Kangaroo Valley and Timor Leste and the importance of caring for the environment in both countries.

Mr Carvalho, agreeing to a request that he agree to us calling Our Tree "The Kangaroo Valley Carvalho Pine", wrote:

Planting trees and effort for conservation our nature is one of Haburas Foundation mission that I'm belongs to. Hope your effort will bring inspiration for politician in every country that today is very slowly moving and less focus to preservation of our nature and not invested much resources and effort for environmental programs.

Haburas Foundation has been blacklisted by Australia Government because the involvement in sign a declaration letter on September-October 2004 to protest unfair negotiation between Australian Government and East Timor Government on the cases of Timor gap. Australian aid agency (AUSaid) has been resigned Haburas proposal for environmental education program, because our involvement in declaration. We feel this attitude is violating our right (freedom of expression). But is okay, we will use small resources and maximum effort to promote sustainable environmental management in this poorest country.

* Dec 14 2005: Have just returned from Sydney, where I attended recording sessions for a CD of my chamber music played by members of The Australia Ensemble. Brilliant! It will be released in 2006 by Tall Poppies Records.

Tall Poppies has released a CD called Electric Cello by cellist David Pereira. It includes a superb performance of my Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, for cello & CD, as well as pieces by Andrew Ford, Roger Smalley, Carl Vine and Nigel Westlake. Catalogue number: TP180. For more info, click here.

While in Sydney I also attended a Song Company concert that included several of my songs (The Elderly Elephant, Heather Frog, I'm a Slug, Nobody Cares Anymore and Lost Snail). The following review appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on December 10:

A Free Range Christmas
The Song Company

Verbrugghen Hall, December 8

Reviewed by Peter McCallum

Adults will enjoy this as something for the kids, while children will detect that undisguisable thread of coy adult humour throughout. Whether the kids will feel it is therefore special, or be left asking whether they are having fun yet, wasn't tested on Thursday because all the audience were the sort of people who could go anywhere without a proof-of-age card unless asking for a seniors concession.

This made the singalong with Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer a little self-conscious but the Song Company again showed themselves not only unembarrassable, but brilliant.

The balance, pitch discipline and control of timbre in the close harmony arrangements of songs by Frank Loesser (The Inch Worm and The Ugly Duckling), in Martin Wesley-Smith's cheeky cabaret-style songs (I'm a Slug and Nobody Cares Anymore), and in the animal noises (always good practice for singers), all performed with kindy Christmas concert actions, were superb. Such consummate skill so lightly worn.

Also lightly worn is their erudition (in particular, that of the artistic director, Roland Peelman, who contributed witty arrangements of The 12 Days of Christmas among others). This incorporated 13th-century carols, Christmas folk songs from France and Czechoslovakia and esoteric nonsense traditions from Europe.

There were also serious moments, notably from poems by prizewinners and participants in the Taronga Foundation Poetry Prize - Phillip Stapleton, Shaez Mortimer and Will Ulcher, who added contemporary concerns about the extinction of species and used the plight of animals in Baghdad zoos as a poignant indictment of war.

Yet there is another way in which the Song Company's wassail embodies the Christmas spirit.

As one of Australia's most outstanding music ensembles, they scrimp and save, helping young composers and spreading delight with an always-generous spirit which seems to say: "If you haven't got a penny, a halfpenny will do; if you haven't got a halfpenny then God bless you."

On Tuesday November 29, clarinettist Ros Dunlop and I presented my audio-visual piece Weapons of Mass Distortion at a seminar at the New South Wales Writers' Centre on the Australian Government's new sedition laws. Filled the bill perfectly. Since then we have seen the disgraceful race riots at Sydney's Cronulla Beach and elsewhere. While there are many causes, a significant one is, I believe, the attack on fundamental Australian values made by John Howard and his government during the past ten years. This has included lifting the lid on the expression of racist values, allowing right-wing shock-jocks free reign in pushing the government's agenda, including the demonisation of "people of Middle Eastern appearance". See this article by 2UE broadcaster and Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton (from, Wed Dec 14 2005):

Alan Jones's week of ranting wog-baiting which preceded the Sydney riots was the most disgraceful episode of broadcasting I have encountered in my 40+ years in the media. It was vulgar, vicious and racist, and an unmistakable incitement to violence.

"I'm the person that's led this charge here. Nobody wanted to know about North Cronulla, now it's gathered to this," he screeched, as listener after listener phoned to declare war on Muslims in general and Lebanese in particular. "A community show of force!" he shouted. Hitler's Brownshirts would have loved it.

In a sea of radio filth, Jones's most disgusting act was to broadcast, and to repeat, the SMS phone message calling for violence: "Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the shire get down to North Cronulla to support the leb and wog bashing day."

That a broadcaster could trumpet such madness on air is beyond irresponsible. His furious encouragement of every racist ratbag who rang in was outrageous. To recall Stanley Baldwin's famous stab at the press barons, it was "power without responsibility; the prerogative of the harlot through the ages."

Happily, though, we now have Phillip Ruddock's wonderful new sedition laws, which should be more than sufficient to deal with the matter. I quote from the Anti-Terrorism Bill (2) 2005, rushed through parliament just the other week:

A person commits an offence [of sedition] if:

(a) the person urges a group or groups (whether distinguished by race, religion, nationality or political opinion) to use force or violence against another group or other groups (as so distinguished); and,

(b) the use of the force or violence would threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.

Penalty: Imprisonment for 7 years.

The sad thing is that no one in authority will take Jones on. Certainly not his mates Howard and Ruddock, who dote upon him as their trusted media megaphone. And certainly not the NSW state government of Morris Iemma, which lives in daily terror of upsetting the great man. So this nasty, hypocritical old harlot will continue to get away with it. With the results we have seen.

How about it, Mr Howard? Seven years for Mr Jones? Seems an open and shut case to me. If you do nothing then your hypocrisy will be even more staggering than it is now.

* Dec 2 2005: Was asked by The Sydney Morning Herald the other day for my thoughts, in 500 words, on "the impact on my art-form" of the sedition provisions in the Australian Government's proposed Anti-Terrorist Bill (No.2) 2005. I wrote:

Sedition laws serve as a potential weapon for the state to use against people it wishes to silence. We value Shostakovich's 10th Symphony partly because it stands up against Stalinist repression. Yet we are discouraging - through the sedition sections of the anti-terrorism bill - composers from creating works that challenge our government's policies.

Peter Sculthorpe recently composed a string quartet sympathising with asylum-seekers in detention camps. Did he hope this work would cause in its audience alienation or disaffection towards ("urge disaffection against") the Government? If so, he could be accused of having "seditious intention".

If his next string quartet sympathises with an Iraqi man who lost his children to indiscriminate bombing by the coalition of the willing, say, and if by playing it musicians give moral support to the group of "insurgents" to which that man now belongs and which is "engaged in armed hostilities against the Australian Defence Force", then Sculthorpe could go to jail for seven years.

He might plead that his intention was to provide "aid of a humanitarian nature", but the onus would be on him to prove that. It is unlikely he would be charged, but the possibility is there. He would be encouraged to find inspiration in a safer subject.

The Howard Government promises us these laws will not be used against artists. Is that a core or a non-core promise? And how do we know what future governments will do?

Still, I think the impact of the proposed sedition laws on"art-music" composition will be slight. Not many composers engage in political subjects, and any perceived offence would be difficult to prove.

However, the impact on music-theatre, songwriters and on audio-visual composition - where photographs, texts and video can be used with live and recorded music (or sound bites from politicians) - could be considerable. I recently created an audio-visual piece called Papua Merdeka that, in expressing concern for the plight of the West Papuan people, implicitly criticises the Indonesian armed forces for their brutality and the Australian Government for its support of Indonesia's "territorial integrity". From my layman's reading of the bill it seems that with this piece I'll be in the clear. But I'm not sure.

Performers won't be sure, either. Why should they perform this piece and risk prosecution when they could perform Beethoven instead? Performers will avoid contentious pieces.

Democracy demands dissent. Everyone in a democracy must be allowed, indeed encouraged, to express what they think: through a speech, a placard, a poem, a song, a sculpture, a painting, a novel, a video, an audio-visual work, participation in a demonstration and so on. Existing laws forbid inciting action that threatens the safety of citizens or the ability of governments to govern. Why, then, have sedition laws at all?

In order to save democracy, must we destroy it?

* Nov 21 2005: The Charisma concert last Thursday night, at which my Merry-Go-Round and Papua Merdeka were performed, plus works by Ros Bandt and Steve Ingham, went very well. A member of the audience wrote to Ros Dunlop:

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your performance with Julia on Thursday evening. It was a program of strength, grace and beauty. Thank you and congratulations on presenting such meaningful works.

Have just received an email from Guitar Trek, who played my Songs & Marches at a Musica Viva concert on Saturday night in Springwood, NSW:

The concert went really well (about 400 people) and Songs & Marches got a great reception. The guitar players who were there all thought it was the best piece on the program - so there you go! We played the full version again without cuts and it seems to work just fine - maybe we played it a little better than the first performance ...

* Nov 11 2005: Armistice Day, the 30th anniversary of the dismissal of Australia's Whitlam Government, and the 125th anniversary of the hanging of Ned Kelly - an appropriate day for me to make a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee re the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005; it said, in part:

Like others who have made a submission to this committee, I am alarmed at what seems to me to be the severe and un-necessary restriction of civil liberties entailed in this bill.

Even if I were not extremely sceptical about the Government's motives here - based on its past mendacity - I would still object to, amongst other things, the loss of habeas corpus and presumption of innocence ...

We in Australia do not have a Bill of Rights. Thus without stringent legal provisions to protect us from Government and/or bureaucratic abuse, none of us is safe. It is all very well to say, as many Australians do, that if you've got nothing to hide then you've got nothing to fear. Tell that to Ms Solon or any of the hundreds of other innocent victims of government ineptitude. The point here is that people are people, with personal strengths and weaknesses, axes to grind, a normal human propensity for making mistakes, and so on. We've seen how Government bureaucrats, frightened for their jobs, have kept silent as appalling injustice occurs (those who stand up and protest are denigrated on any grounds other than on the substance of their argument). We need watertight protection, not a bill that leaves us at the mercy of petty officialdom.

We are bringing democracy, so we are told, to the people of Iraq, whether they want it or not, at the point of a gun. What kind of democracy are we exporting? Not the one that my father fought for in World War 2. Not the one that Sir Robert Menzies defended. Instead of safeguarding our freedoms, the Government is attacking them ...

Woodrow Wilson wrote "The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it." This bill increases the Government's power over its citizens, simultaneously restricting, through the Sedition section, our right to object ...

The hypocrisy of this bill is staggering. If we are so concerned about terrorism, then we should be objecting to the Indonesian army - "terrorists in uniform", as Sister Susan Connelly calls them - in its campaign of terror in, for example, West Papua. But we are officially co-operating with it, effectively endorsing its methods. We should be urging that those responsible for the outrages in East Timor in 1999 be brought to justice. But we are silent. When this bill has been passed, citizens of Australia will have fewer liberties than the terrorists of the TNI ...

* Nov 6 2005: Did a concert last night in the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery with Charisma (Ros Dunlop, clarinets, and Julia Ryder, cello). They played Merry-Go-Round and Papua Merdeka as well as new pieces by Ros Bandt and Steve Ingham. Large audience, great reception.

next Charisma concert: 7pm Thursday November 17 2005; Uniting Church, 395 Oxford St, Paddington, Sydney; tickets: $20, $15 (concession); bookings: 02 9810 2253; program includes new works by Ros Bandt and Stephen Ingham plus my Papua Merdeka and Merry-Go-Round

diary entry: 7.30pm Tues Jan 31 2006: a concert by the Kioloa Harp Ensemble, Kangaroo Valley Hall, Kangaroo Valley; tickets: $20, $10 (concession); bookings: 02 4465 1299; program includes new works for seven harps by Ross Edwards, Andrew Schultz, Larry Sitsky and me as well as arrangements of works by Bach, Lecuona, Mendelssohn and Salzedo; members of the ensemble are Alice Giles (director), Ingrid Bauer, Lily Dixon, Genevieve Lang, Hilary Manning, Tegan Peemoeller and Laura Tanata

Guitar Trek will play my piece Songs and Marches on Sat Nov 19 for the Blue Mountains Music Society in Springwood, NSW

* Oct 28 2005: Just got back from the most recent Tekee Tokee Tomak Tour. Clarinettist Ros Dunlop and I gave concerts in England (London, Newcastle, Sandwich (Kent)), Holland (Rotterdam), Ireland (Cork), Lithuania (Vilnius), and Scotland (Glasgow). Went very well, with ecstatic reactions from some audience members.

Before Europe, Ros did solo gigs in the USA, premiering my new audio-visual piece Papua Merdeka, for bass clarinet & computer, about the plight of the people of West Papua. Program note:

The 1969 UN-sanctioned "Act of Free Choice" that handed the Dutch colony West Papua to Indonesia was a sham, an act of no choice for the West Papuan people. Since then, Indonesia has treated the territory as it did East Timor, with rampant human rights abuse as well as exploitation, in collusion with America and others, of West Papua's rich natural resources.

This piece is about the West Papuan people and their thirst for freedom. Almost all the sources I've used in creating it were begged, borrowed or stolen from others. They include Agence France Presse, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's 2JJJ, Penny Beaumont, Sheila Draper, Don Bennetts, Gerry Errante, Steven Feld, Lynne Hamilton (of Prowling Tiger Press in Melbourne, who published "West Papua: Follow the Morning Star" by Ben Bohane, Jim Elmslie and Liz Thompson, an inspiring book of superb texts and photographs), David Kirkland, Jonny Lewis, Robert Lowry ("Shall We Gather at the River?"), Jonathon Mustard, SBS News, Edward Smith and Alice Wesley-Smith - my thanks to all these plus to all those whose names I don't know or contact addresses I can't find. Apologies to those whose names have been inadvertently omitted. Thanks, too, to David Bridie, Louise Byrne, Andrew Kilvert and Rob Wesley-Smith. Two other books provided valuable information: Jim Elmslie's "Irian Jaya Under the Gun" (Crawford House Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd) and Peter King's "West Papua Since Suharto" (University of New South Wales Press). I used the beautiful West Papuan anthem Hai Tanah Ku Papua. Flags, used with permission, came from Most of the bird of paradise paintings were by Rowan Ellis (1848-1922). Finally, thanks to Ros Dunlop for commissioning the piece. And, for funding assistance, to the Music Board of the Australia Council, the Australian Government's arts funding and advisory body.

On the way home from the tour I gave a composers' seminar at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts.

Sept 20 2005: Tim Kain, of Guitar Trek, says that the premiere - in New Zealand - of my piece Songs and Marches, for guitar quartet, went very well, receiving an enthusiastic response from the audience. Here's the program note:

An old Andalusian ud melody - incorporated into Arab music in the 12th century - is attacked by snippets of the national anthems of some of the "Coalition of the Willing". A merry-go-round theme is heard ("here we go again, around and around ..."), then, later, a couple of Hitler Youth songs and marches. These sound surprisingly good - but then they wouldn't work as propaganda if they didn't! As Noel Coward said, "Aaaah, the potency of cheap music!" At the end, the ud melody returns, sadly beautiful, licking its wounds.

Some may care to see a political theme in this piece; others may simply enjoy the rollicking tunes and the superb artistry of Guitar Trek, who commissioned the piece with financial assistance from the Music Board of the Australia Council, the Federal Government's arts funding and advisory body.

next performance: Sat Nov 19 2005, Blue Mountains Music Society, Springwood, New South Wales

* Sept 14 2005: Saw the following review by Joel Crotty in The Age, Sept 14 2005, of a Sept 12 concert by Charisma at Fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne:

Sydney-based new music duo Charisma - Roslyn Dunlop (clarinets) and Julia Ryder (cello) - presented material from J. S Bach to a new commission from Melbourne sound artist Ros Bandt. It concentrated on the multimedia works of Martin Wesley-Smith.

The program featured Wesley-Smith's strong social justice commentaries on the Iraq war, East Timor and Afghanistan, Weapons of Mass Distortion for clarinet and CD Rom.

It is a clever piece that weaves Lewis Carroll-type phrases and imagery around the issue of Iraq.

The Wonderland of Carroll collides with contemporary political sound-grabs to vividly push home the almost surreal nature of propaganda. Tekee Tokee Tomak and Merry-Go-Round are responses to the wars in East Timor and Afghanistan respectively.

The soundtrac to beautiful photographs depicting proud people going about their everyday activities, but with the scars of war apparent, includes traditional themes, Western popular music and abstract sonic canvases that sometimes incorporates the nearly forgotten early '80s synthesiser sound.

After interval, the tone quietened with Bandt's Blue/Gold for clarinets, cello and DVD, a multimedia work mapping the sound artist's response to the environment.

The piece quietly alternates between the nature of wet and dry: images of water and deserts play off against Bandt's music, which displays a strong tendency towards a medieval soundscape.

* Sept 6 2005: Went to Canberra yesterday to hear the guitar quartet Guitar Trek rehearse my piece Songs and Marches. I was delighted! They're an excellent group, handling the difficult bits with ease and giving the piece a deliciously funky feel I hadn't quite anticipated. They will premiere it in Wellington, NZ, on Monday Sept 12.

On Saturday Sept 3 I presented the Third Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Silent Film Festival, with pianist Robert Constable brilliantly accompanying two Keaton films and one by Charlie Chaplin. The event raised nearly $2000 for projects in East Timor.

In the meantime I'm working on Papua Merdeka, a multimedia piece for bass clarinet & computer about West Papua.

* August 26 2005: Participated last night in an East Timor fund-raiser at Leichhardt Town Hall, Sydney. Clarinettist/bass clarinettist Ros Dunlop performed Welcome to the Hotel Turismo and Tekee Tokee Tomak, and several new East Timor videos were shown.

* August 20 2005: FIRE! Strange smell this morning, which I couldn't locate. Thought it might've been some off food, but couldn't find anything. Then Peter saw smoke in his bedroom and discovered that the bed in my daughter Olivia's room was smouldering, producing acrid smoke making it hard to breathe and to see. I eventually managed, after several attempts, to get in and turn the power off. Then the mattress burst into flames six feet high. I was throwing buckets of water in there while Peter hosed everything down ... eventually we put it out - phew! Thought for a moment there that the house would go. Everything's a mess, and the place stinks, but WE SAVED THE DAY! And the house. But not Olivia's files, which were under the bed. Some other things too. Still, we were very lucky. It was the flamin' (literally) electric blanket, of course - they're a death trap ... yes, need smoke detectors, and a fire extinguisher that works (ours didn't), and one should pull the plug of one's electric blanket out of the wall when one is not using it. A fire truck from the Beaumont Volunteer Fire Service came after the event to check things - all OK.

* July 22 2005: The Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership, of which I'm a member, is planning its Third Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival for 7.30pm Sat Sept 3 2005. Click here for details.

Clarinettist Ros Dunlop performed two multimedia pieces of mine, including Weapons of Mass Distortion, in Tokyo in August.

* July 11 2005: Am planning, with clarinettist Ros Dunlop, the 2005 Tekee Tokee Tomak Tour to Europe & the USA - see the tour web-site here.

* June 25 2005: 60th birthday concerts and party now all over. To mark the occasion The Song Company did a brilliant concert in Kangaroo Valley Hall on Sat June 11, repeating it in The Studio, Sydney Opera House, on Wed June 15; program: Quito, doublethink and a selection of songs. Read reviews etc here.

On June 11, in Kangaroo Valley, NSW, and on June 15 in The Studio at the Sydney Opera House, the Song Company presented Brothers in Crime, a celebration of the 60th birthday of Martin and Peter Wesley Smith (the valley is their home). What the concert brought home is not only the affection and respect for the brothers in the musical community, but the totality of their vision-accessible, direct, sometimes satirical, often overtly political works drawing on popular musical idioms and pushing them to new levels of complexity. The first half of the concert came from their powerful 1994 music theatre work, Quito, not only an indictment of Australia's mishandling of East Timorese refugees in the 80s and 90s but prophetic of our government's subsequent cruelties to refugees from other countries. The remainder of the concert included a range of works new and old that entertained and enlightened with their gentle wit, whimsy and droll barbs, all done justice by the Song Company.

Keith Gallasch in RealTime, RT69 (Oct/Nov 05)

* May 14 2005: Peter and I did an interview with Julie Simonds on 2MBS-FM for subsequent broadcast. During the interview she announced that she had a surprise for us: "And now, listeners, we're about to hear the first broadcast of the first performance and recording of a new piece dedicated to Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith; it's called Kangaroo Valley Blues, it's by Ross Edwards, and it's played on piano by Ian Munro"!

I was stunned. It's a great little piece, beautifully played. Ross wrote it for us as a gift for our forthcoming "significant" birthday, which will be "celebrated", if that's the word (achieving yet another age milestone doesn't seem like a cause for celebration, although of course it is), with two special concerts in June - see below.

* May 11 2005: Finished, finally, a piece for The Song Company that I've been working on for a while. It's called doublethink, and I'm cautiously pleased with it. I think. Words by Peter Wesley-Smith. It will be premiered at the Song Company concerts of our stuff in Kangaroo Valley (June 11) and the Sydney Opera House (June 15). Enquiries: call 02 9351 7939. To book for the Kangaroo Valley concert ($25/conc $15) call 02 9251 1600; for bookings for the Opera House concert ($35/conc $25), call 02 9250 7777.

hooded man

doublethink is about propaganda, official lies, and the power of the image - how one image (e.g. the hooded man at Abu Ghraib) can undo years of expensive state propaganda (does the truth prevail, finally?)

* May 8 2005: Attended a recording session in which cellist David Pereira played a piece I wrote for him in 2000: Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, for cello & CD. I've heard various wonderful performances of this piece (most notably by Julia Ryder and Rachel Scott as well as by David himself). This performance was superb: thoughtful, mature, at times overwhelmingly sad, but beautiful ... It will be released on CD later this year by Tall Poppies.

* April 28 2005: I recently attended a workshop with The Song Company on the new piece - doublethink - that Peter and I are writing for them. What a fantastic group! Sitting in their middle as they sing divinely is as close to Heaven that I'll ever get! (well ... almost, anyway).

Tickets for The Song Company's all-Wesley-Smith concerts
in Kangaroo Valley (Sat June 11) and The Studio, Sydney Opera House
(Wed June 15) are selling well - call (02) 9351 7939 to make a booking.

photo, taken May 3 2005, by Belinda Webster
of Peter (left) and Martin Wesley-Smith:


* April 12 2005: The première performance, and broadcast, of A Luta Continua happened in Hobart on April 2: marvellous! For a report and a review ("The audience erupted into noisy accolades ... a lively work ... dazzling blocks of syncopated sound"), see here. After the performance I spent a few days driving around the South Island of New Zealand: nice!

* March 2005: Excitement (well, mine, anyway) is building towards the première of A Luta Continua in Hobart on April 2. The singers (Andrew Collis, baritone, Pip Monk, soprano, and the Ogilvie High School Concert Choir) are busy learning it, with most apparently enjoying it, and tickets are selling fast (actually, I don't know this, but if they're not then they should be). ABC-FM at one stage indicated that they would be broadcasting the performance live. Details will be posted here.

* Feb 20 2005: Have recently had a piano piece - Griff's Riffs - published in the AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board) "Popular Piano Syllabus" Grade 5 "Piano for Leisure" book. For enquiries click here.

My song I'm a Caterpillar of Society (Not a Social Butterfly), which appears in both Who Killed Cock Robin? and Boojum!, has been published in the ABC's The 2005 Sing! Book (

* Feb 16 2005: Have been hunting through hard disks for songs from which The Song Company will choose for their Sat June 11 (Kangaroo Valley) and Wed June 15 (The Studio, Sydney Opera House) Brothers in Crime concerts later this year. The first half of each concert will consist of a new production of the multimedia piece Quito. After interval there'll be a 40-minute bracket of songs (serious, light, children's, funny, sad etc), followed by the new piece, doublethink, that Peter and I are working on right now.

enquiries: call (02) 9351 7939

read more here (click on "concerts")

* Jan 31 2005: Have finished A Luta Continua, for baritone, girls' choir and orchestra, commissioned by Symphony Australia for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and scheduled to be premiered on April 2 at the Ten Days on the Island festival, Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania. See here for info. 31 or so minutes long, with a text by Peter Wesley-Smith, it's about East Timor. The first section sets to music some of the defence speech Xanana Gusmão made at his trial after he was captured by Indonesian troops in 1992. The performers: Andrew Collis, baritone, the Ogilvie High School Concert Choir (Joan Wright, musical director, and Pip Monk, soprano), and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Mills.

for more information, and to read Peter's text, click here

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* Dec 23 2004: Recently received a CD of my old (1991 or so) piece Visiting the Queen, for singing percussionist and MIDI piano, played (and narrated and sung) by percussionist Grame Leak at a concert in Melbourne in 1992. He wrote: "it was a rockin concert. and it's a great piece too - the piano part is hilarious. It did get a pretty good run - was seen in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Essen, West Germany. I played it to drunk crowds at the Last Laugh - they didn't know what (had) hit them ('f*** that - too much art', one of them said to me)." Ha!

* Nov 18 2004: Have been inundated by requests for the performance materials for my multimedia piece Weapons of Mass Distortion, particularly from American soprano saxophonists. Sent off several today (CD-ROM, score and, for rehearsal purposes, audio CD). From one:

"I heard Ros Dunlop perform WMD at the Contemporary Clarinet Festival last spring, as well as John Sampen perform a version for soprano saxophone at the NASA Conference in April 04. It's a remarkable piece, I think, and has caused an intense emotional reaction in me each time I've seen it. It is so pertinent, I think, in light of the tragedy of our national election, that we continue to challenge the validity of the Bush regime's 'truths'. This has been a hard day for me and many others to accept, and I feel the need to express this in some way musically."

* Nov 09 2004: Have just received a pre-release copy of a new Tall Poppies CD by guitarist Tim Kain. Called Mirrors of Fire, it contains works by Australian composers Richard Charlton, Robert Davidson, Ross Edwards, Graeme Koehne, Richard Vella, Nigel Westlake - and me (my Kolele Mai of 2001).

An initial reaction from Guitar Trek after they'd received the draft of Songs and Marches:

"... fantastic! ... (was) laughing out loud at some of the military-sounding bits ... brilliantly conceived .. looks like it will work very well on the guitars ... (will) be a hit with the public ..."

* Nov 08 2004: My ex-wife, Ann North, has recently had a health scare: a burst cranial aneurism, which occurred when she was in Firenze, required, after she had come back to Australia, an emergency operation. The good news is that the op was highly successful and that she is likely to make a complete recovery.

* Nov 03 2004: Have been far too busy to blog recently! Have completed the first draft of a piece for Canberra guitar quartet Guitar Trek. Tentatively called Songs and Marches, it is scored for two standard classical guitars plus one treble guitar (tuned a fourth higher) and one acoustic bass guitar. Have also been working on A Luta Continua - about East Timor - for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and a piece for The Song Company.

* Oct 15 2004: As if recovering from last weekend's Australian federal election result isn't bad enough, I'm now recovering from a double hernia op last Wednesday (I got 'em shifting loudspeakers for Conservatorium concerts years ago (that's my story, anyway), but hadn't bothered getting 'em fixed till now). All done. Still a bit sore, but. The service provided by the doctors and nurses at Shoalhaven Hospital was superb - could not have been bettered.

The election was not yet a week ago but apparently the Liberals are already saying that they were misled by Treasury and that there isn't as much money available as they thought. Guess that means that most of Howard's promises were non-core (i.e. lies).

Wrote to New Matilda, a new Australian web-site devoted to truth and frankness in Australian public life (to which, unfortunately, one has to pay to subscribe). An excerpt:

American Republicans can ignore critics like Noam Chomsky because the only people who read them are despised 'liberals' with limited electoral clout. Michael Moore's populist approach, however, clearly has Republicans worried, which is why they have spent a lot of money trying to combat him ... We need an Australian Michael Moore! And/or a populist weekly newspaper whose articles are not written according to its proprietor's interests. One that will vigorously defend the Australian people from the attacks this government is mounting against it. But this will cost money, and what the Right derisively calls the 'Left' simply doesn't have the resources - mega-millionaires are almost by definition conservatives not about to spend money helping to change a situation from which they've prospered.

* Oct 12 2004: Am still recovering from last weekend's Australian federal election result. Devastating. This was not essentially about one party being preferred to the other 'cos people generally thoughts its policies were better. It's about the Australian people resoundingly saying "I'm alright, Jack, but I want to be better off - bugger everyone else". It's about greed, fear, and intolerance. It's about illegally invading other countries no matter what the consequences for innocent civilians. It's about stealing our neighbours' resources. It's about clearfelling magnificent old-growth forests so that a few loggers can make a living - and a few politicians, and Gunns executives and shareholders, can make millions. It's about locking up children, indefinitely, in horrific detention centres. It's about trashing international law, decency, morality, and the old Australian ethos of helping a mate, of a fair go for all. Worst of all, it's about GIVING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO POOR OLD COMPOSERS!! This government, by slashing tertiary education, ABC etc funding, and by inculcating a fundamental suspicion of free debate, of education for its own sake, of anyone different from us, of "elites", and so on, has fundamentally changed the nature of Australian society. The politics of greed, fear and intolerance have now been entrenched, making it extremely difficult for any alternative government to form in the future. I find this utterly depressing.

* Fri Oct 01 2004: received a review by Edmonton Journal critic Bill Rankin of a recent performance of my choral piece Who Killed Cock Robin? by the Edmonton choir Ensemble de la Rue. He wrote: "All and all, between the entertaining but sad tale of poor Cock Robin and the various educational and delightful digressions, musical and otherwise, which composer Wesley-Smith included in his version of Who Killed Cock Robin?, the listeners got something they probably didn't expect from a chamber choir concert." Click here for the full review.

* Sat Sept 25 2004: Clarinettist Ros Dunlop and I presented my piece Weapons of Mass Distortion at the Concert Against Howard, Ryde Civic Centre, Ryde, Sydney, put on by Artists Against Howard. It received a great reception from a wonderfully-supportive audience. It was a lovely event, with excellent performances, smooth organisation (by Alex Broun), good humour and an all-pervasive strong anti-Howard feeling. Delicious!

some anti-Howard web-sites: Not Happy John Campaign, End the Lies, The Justice Project, Not Happy John, John Howard Lies, Dear John, Defeat Howard, 105 Reasons, Australia at the Crossroads, Vote Howard Out, Get Rid of Howard, Time to Go, John

if you don't want to read the following political rant, click here for the next item in this blog

Had a comment about the forthcoming Australian federal election published in the new e-zine New Matilda the other day. An excerpt:

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has turned out, as many predicted, to be an expensive and disastrous quagmire, with huge numbers of innocent civilians maimed or killed, from which there can be no honourable exit. What chance the always-ridiculous notion of transplanting democracy? That of a snowflake in hell. According to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, this war has already been lost (see Howard got us into this on the basis of lies or incompetence or both. He has compromised our integrity and our safety. If Latham can hammer this point hard enough, at least a majority of Australians will realise that Howard has to go.

Howard asserts that he has no doubt that the invasion of Iraq was perfectly legal, despite Koffi Annan's view. And, apparently, despite the view of the International Commission of International Law Jurists, who advised Bush and Blair prior to the invasion "[1] that it would be blatantly illegal under international law for the Anglo-American belligerents to invade Iraq; and [2] that their joint decision as Commanders-in-Chief to commence hostilities would constitute prosecutable war crimes." See

As Michael Smith points out in an article in The Telegraph (U.K) (Secret Papers Show Blair was Warned of Iraq Chaos (Sat Sept 18 2004), Tony Blair was warned, in a "Secret UK Eyes Only" options paper, a year before invading Iraq that a stable post-war government would be impossible without keeping large numbers of troops there for "many years". He was told that "there was a risk of the Iraqi system 'reverting to type' after a war, with a future government acquiring the very weapons of mass destruction that an attack would be designed to remove." He would "have to 'wrong foot' Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, and that British officials believed that President George W Bush merely wanted to complete his father's 'unfinished business' in a 'grudge match' against Saddam ... But no one has satisfactorily answered how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be any better. Iraq has no history of democracy so no one has this habit or experience." If Howard saw this paper then he's a fool for joining in. If he didn't then he should've sought a worst-case scenario that might have given the same warnings (warnings that have since proved to have been so prescient). His politicisation of the public service meant that few public servants were prepared to risk their jobs by telling him what he didn't want to know. When Andrew Wilkie, a public servant who resigned because Howard's rush to war flew in the face of what Wilkie was reading at Australia's Office of National Assessments, he was viciously attacked and his advice ignored. One wonders how it can be that any Australian could vote to give Howard's government another three years in office ...

On 25 September 2004, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that eminent research scientist Dr Bob Mathews became so alarmed at the consequences for Australia of its forthcoming invasion of Iraq that he wrote to John Howard expressing his deepest concerns and urging the PM to reconsider. A loyal public servant, with 35 years experience working at the Defence, Science and Technology Organisation, Dr Mathews believed participation in the war, would increase Australia's profile with terrorists and affect counter-terrorism in the Asian region ... Did John Howard listen? Of course not! In fact, in the words of one of Dr Mathews' colleagues the scientist, who was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in 1994, was treated disgracefully by the government, with charges even being considered against him. See the full story here.

John Howard believes strongly, so he says, in good governance and the rule of law. He should have no objection, therefore, to his being tried in the International Criminal Court as a war criminal: if his actions did not violate international law then he would be found not guilty, a marvellous vindication and a kick in the teeth for all those so-called "Howard-haters". If found guilty, then at least he could console himself, during his long years in detention, that his punishment was less than that to which he condemned innocent asylum-seekers, and that the rule of law had triumphed over power and privilege ...

See this (from Into the Dark by Chris Floyd, Moscow Times, Nov 1 2002):

The Rumsfeld-Bush plan to employ murder and terrorism for political, financial and ideological gain does have historical roots (besides al-Qaida, the Stern Gang, the SA, the SS, the KGB, the IRA, the UDF, Eta, Hamas, Shining Path and countless other upholders of Bushian morality, decency and freedom). We refer of course to Operations Northwoods, oft mentioned in these pages: the plan that America's top military brass presented to President John Kennedy in 1963, calling for a phony terrorist campaign -- complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans -- to provide "justification" for an invasion of Cuba, the mafia/corporate fiefdom that had recently been lost to Castro.

Kennedy rejected the plan, and was killed a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but on a far grander scale, with resources at his disposal undreamed of by those brass of yore, with no counterbalancing global rival to restrain him -- and with an ignorant, corrupt president who has shown himself all too eager to embrace any means whatsoever that will augment the wealth and power of his own narrow, undemocratic, elitist clique.

There is prestuplyeniye here, transgression, a stepping-over -- deliberately, with open eyes, with forethought, planning, and conscious will -- of lines that should never be crossed. Acting in deadly symbiosis with rage-maddened killers, God-crazed ranters and those supreme "sub-state actors," the mafias, Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an endless night of black ops, retribution, blowback, deceit, of murder and terror -- wholesale, retail, state-sponsored, privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos, and the perversion of all that's best in us, of all that we've won from the bestiality of our primal nature, all that we've raised above the mindless ravening urges and impulses still boiling in the mud of our monkey brains.

It's not a fight for freedom; it's a retreat into darkness.

* Sat Sept 11 2004: presented two concerts at Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery with clarinettist Ros Dunlop and cellist Julia Ryder ("Charisma") performing my multimedia pieces Merry-Go-Round, Weapons of Mass Distortion and Welcome to the Hotel Turismo - went well!

I was reminded of my song I'm the Butcher from Wagga Bloody Wagga, which comes from Boojum!. This full-length piece of choral music theatre (libretto: Peter Wesley-Smith; music: me) is about the life, work and ideas of Lewis Carroll. During his lifetime there was a famous case in England to do with the so-called Tichborne Claimant. The dowager Duchess of Tichborne, whose son, the slim, dark, handsome Sir Roger, had been lost at sea many years previously, but whom she assumed was still alive, advertised for him to return. One of the many Sir Rogers who turned up as her long-lost son was a fat red-headed butcher from Wagga Wagga in the Riverina district of New South Wales. Even though the Duchess clasped the butcher to her bosom and claimed him to be, indeed, her much-missed Sir Roger, others thought he was a fraudster trying to claim the Tichborne estates. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to eleven (I think) years' jail. It is thought that Lewis Carroll chose a Butcher as one of his characters in his epic nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark because of the publicity and controversy surrounding this celebrated case. We used the Butcher from Wagga Wagga as one of the characters in our expedition to hunt down the sense in Carroll's nonsense.

The name Wagga Wagga (pronounced "Wogga Wogga") is often shortened to Wagga. In fact Wagga Wagga is itself an abbreviation - from Wagga Wagga Wagga. Wagga Wagga Wagga was originally Wagga Wagga Wagga Wagga, but this was thought to be too cumbersome.

* Thurs Sept 9 2004: received a note from Bill Kempster, Director of Choral Activities at the University of New Hampshire in Canada:

"Just wanted to tell you that (my choir) performed Cock Robin twice last weekend in Edmonton and Camrose AB, and that it went off a treat (as I am sure it always does!) ... I wanted something to act as a kind of 'encore' for the first half (in which was placed Cock Robin), so I modified your (barbershop quartet) Together for SATB, and it suited the spot perfectly."

For information about Who Killed Cock Robin?, click here.

* Sun Aug 29 2004: a performance of my piece Weapons of Mass Distortion had been scheduled for The Howard Years - A Farewell Concert in the Entertainment Centre, Sydney, on Sun Oct 10. But Howard obviously heard about it and called an election for Sat Oct 9, so the concert will have to be moved forward ...

* Fri Aug 27 2004: première of latest movie, Dirty Dan: The Old Grey Mayor, at The Second Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival in Upper River Hall, Kangaroo Valley. A "silent movie", piano music was improvised live by Robert Constable. The movie starred Paul Turnock as Dirty Dan, Helen George as Fluff the Magic Virgin, John George as Froth, Olivia Wesley-Smith as Fifi and Guy Novich as the Waiter, with script & production by Peter Wesley-Smith and videography & editing by me. The movie was enthusiastically received by the capacity audience - great success! The following night we showed it again, this time with a different selection of Buster Keaton movies.

* July 2004, gave two classes to music majors at SCEGGS (Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School) Redlands, Sydney; started shooting and editing a sequel to the silent movie Dirty Dan the Pump-Out Man, called Dirty Dan: The Old Grey Mayor, which will be premièred in Upper River Hall, Kangaroo Valley, on Fri Aug 27 2004 as part of the Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival with music improvised live by Robert Constable; finished two movies: smells of fortified prunes ... (a doco about the making of the 2003 Carymbia Valley Estate chambourcin) and Totem (a record of the opening of the 2003 photography and sculpture exhibition by Belinda Webster and Ole Nielson) ... wondered for a bit there if I was becoming more of a videographer than a composer, especially since I've started making silent movies ... but this movie nonsense is about to stop (after I've finished a short video showing environmental degradation in Kangaroo Valley caused by excessive pumping of water from here to Sydney), for I'm working on three pieces: [1] for Canberra guitar quartet Guitar Trek; [2] a piece - A Luta Continua - about East Timor for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with solo bass singer and girls' choir; and [3] a piece about propaganda for The Song Company.

* Thurs-Fri June 24-25 2004, Canberra Grammar School: participated in Canberra Grammar School's 75th Anniversary Arts Festival, presenting nine partial or complete performances of Weapons of Mass Distortion, plus other works, with clarinettist Ros Dunlop and cellist Julia Ryder ("Charisma"). Other performers included Synergy, whose Alison Eddington performed, brilliantly, my For Marimba & Tape. The Festival, which was organised by Adrian Keenan, was a great success and a testament to the school's teaching of "values" (not, though, those that Mr Howard espouses).

* Sun June 20 2004, World Refugee Day: presented Merry-Go-Round at EMBRACE, a refugee fund-raising event at the Vanguard, a bar in Newtown, Sydney. Clarinettist Ros Dunlop and cellist Julia Ryder ("Charisma"), who commissioned the piece, were the performers. Other performers on the gig included Tenzing Tsewang, Hathor Dance Theatre, Davood A Tabrizi and Navit Safarian, Mohammed Bangoura and Sibo Bangoura, and the Latin band Quimbombo. The event was sold out.

* Tues May 25 2004: gave a talk on "Art & Politics" at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, lavishly illustrating it with performances by Ros Dunlop of Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, Tekee Tokee Tomak and Weapons of Mass Distortion. See here.

* May 19 2004: performance of Balibo, for flute & CD, at the festival Mondi Sonori in Trento, Italy; flautist: Emilio Galante.

* Thurs May 13 2004: gave two classes in the Music Department, University of Sydney, one on my piece Quito and one on "borrowing" in my music.

* Sunday May 2 2004: gave the keynote adress at an international SoundHouse conference at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, organised by Peter Mahony. SoundHouse: "communication through music and image; an international network of somewhat like minds connecting school, cultural and community centre-based activities in most Australian states, NZ, South Africa, and Ireland, devoted to mining for opportunities which seem to exist at the intersection of technology, music and the creative arts for self expression."

As part of my presentation I showed Weapons of Mass Distortion, clarinet-less. Peter wrote:

Most were really blown away by your current multimedia work. Interestingly, it unsettled some, it seems this topic is too close to the bone to be totally uncontroversial even here. One thought it to be propaganda itself. Quite a few of us were inspired by it.

In response to the charge that Weapons, which condemns the use of propaganda, is itself propaganda, I wrote:

Fair enough. I don't think it is, but [a] I might be wrong, and [b] I can see how others might see it that way, especially those who support Blair, Bush and Howard's invasion of Iraq ... Propaganda aims to deceive, through lies, exaggeration or denying an alternative viewpoint. My piece does not aim to - nor does it - deceive, it doesn't lie, and it doesn't exaggerate. It also doesn't present any alternative viewpoints. But [a] it's in part a polemic, and polemics usually don't canvas other viewpoints; [b] it's not an essay, or an article; it's a ... well, it's whatever it is, whatever one wants to call it ... part polemic, part 'art-piece', part doco (the 'art' side of it is reinforced when one hears it with the live clarinet part). Whatever one calls it, its purpose is to stimulate (provoke?) reflection and discussion (in this case it appears to have worked). It shows how some so-called-democratic governments have in recent years used propaganda, doublespeak, lies etc, an example being their use in helping persuade citizens to support the invasion of Iraq. These are well-documented, proven facts, and should hardly be, therefore, controversial. The piece neither supports not decries the invasion of Iraq; it merely decries the use of propaganda etc in the lead-up to it.

* April 29 2004: Weapons of Mass Distortion, in a version for soprano saxophone, was played at the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference in North Carolina, USA, by Ohio saxophonist John Sampen. He wrote:

The performance was a big success! Everything went smoothly and we had a standing ovation.

* April 24 2004: first performance of Balibo, for flute & CD, in Italy (at the Sonata Islands Festival, Milano); flautist: Emilio Galante.

* Wed April 21 2004: helped organise, and was "visual programming director" for, an East Timor benefit night in the Sydney Town Hall, Wed April 21, at which Weapons of Mass Distortion was performed; proceeds (over $10,000) went to Kirsty Sword Gusmão's Alola Foundation.

* March 31-April 8 2004: clarinettist Ros Dunlop embarked on a short tour of the USA during which she performed several of my multimedia pieces e.g. Wed March 31: Tekee Tokee Tomak and Weapons of Mass Distortion at a high school in Los Angeles; Sat April 3: Welcome to the Hotel Turismo and Weapons in the New Music Festival, Michigan State University; Sun April 4: Tekee Tokee, Weapons and Merry-Go-Round in a "Fresh Ears" family concert, Music Gallery Institute, Toronto, Canada; Tues April 6: Tekee Tokee, Weapons and Turismo at the University of Carbondale, Indiana; Wed April 7: Tekee Tokee, Weapons and Merry-Go-Round at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan; Thurs April 8: Tekee Tokee, Weapons, Turismo, X and Merry-Go-Round at MIT, Boston, at a concert co-sponsored by Noam Chomsky. Check this one out here.

* March 27 2004: provided music, songs, a film and some audio-visual sequences for the Kangaroo Valley Environment Group's Fourth Inaugural Fun-Raiser Dinner/Show called The Bigger But Better Bush-Bashers' Bagatelle. Also sang in a barbershop quartet formed especially for the evening: The Bigger But Better Bush-Bashers' Barbershop Boys. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and about $2000 was raised for the Group's continuing campaign against lantana, privet etc.

* March 18 2004: gig with Julia Ryder and Ros Dunlop at SCEGGS (Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School) in Darlinghurst, Sydney. The concert - in a beautiful old converted church - looked great, sounded great, the players were in top form, and the audience was attentive and very appreciative. It doesn't get a whole lot better than this!

* March 11 2004: gave a talk at the University of New South Wales about my piece Snark-Hunting, which The Australia Ensemble subsequently performed (Sat March 13) in the University's Clancy Auditorium. Brilliant performance! The players were Geoffrey Collins (flutes, tin whistle), Darryl Pratt (percussion), Ian Munro (keyboards) and Julian Smiles (cello).

Roger Covell:
"Snark-Hunting, one of Martin Wesley-Smith's tributes to the ingenious whimsy of the creator of the Alice books (Lewis Carroll), is as luminous, adroit and entertaining as such a tribute should be."

* March 4-6 2004: schools' concerts in the Bathurst area with Julia Ryder and Ros Dunlop and a concert at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (to accompany the touring art exhibition The State of Art - Peace). After John Howard accused public schools of not teaching proper "values" (by which he meant that some schools presented, as part of the debate on the invasion of Iraq, criticism of his Government's policies), several public schools who had booked us for gigs cancelled the bookings. They regretted this, they said, but couldn't afford to risk offending the Government and having their funding slashed. Ironically, it's the private schools - those who according to Mr Howard do teach proper values - who are lining up to book us ...

* Jan 2 2004: attended a memorial service in Sydney for East Timor activist Dr Andrew McNaughtan, who died suddenly not long before Christmas. A tireless campaigner for justice for the Timorese - and other - people, he will be greatly missed.

andrew Andrew McNaughtan at the opening of the
East Timor Embassy in Canberra, Wed Dec 10 2003

Click on photo to see complete image
(Andrew with Martin Wesley-Smith)

photograph: Jefferson Lee

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* 2003, December 14: gig with Julia Ryder and Ros Dunlop at Manly Art Gallery & Museum as part of the touring art exhibition The State of Art - Peace. Went well. From an audience member: "a momentous intellectual and emotional EXPERIENCE". For enquiries re performances by Dunlop/Ryder/Wesley-Smith, click here.

* November 23 2003: helped organise a chamber music concert in Kangaroo Valley to raise money for the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership - great success! The performers were cellist David Pereira and classical guitarists Rupert Boyd and Jacob Cordover. Rupert gave the first performance of the second movement of my Kolele Mai, for solo guitar. It was a delightful event, made all the more so by over $1000 being raised to assist the re-building of East Timor.

* Tues Nov 5 2003: Tekee Tokee Tomak was performed in Cheltenham, UK, by Australian clarinettist Natascha Briger, who wrote:

Well - it was a huge success last night!! We had a good size audience and there were quite a few questions about the piece ... most people knew a little about the East Timorese conflict and many said the same things ... there were some very beautiful and moving moments in the piece and it got them all talking in the interval with their wine ...

* Oct 19 2003: performed Weapons of Mass Distortion at a peace seminar organised by the Gilmore Peace Group at the Bomaderry Bowling Club, Bomaderry, NSW.

* Sept-Oct 2003: toured the USA with Ros Dunlop, performing various pieces including Merry-Go-Round, Tekee Tokee Tomak, the new Weapons of Mass Distortion, Welcome to the Hotel Turismo and X. We performed at many venues, including Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio; an art gallery in Chicago; the University of Northern Illinois; the University of Santa Clara; Palomar College, CA; Solana Beach, CA; the Community College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas; the University of Montana, Missoula, Montana; and the University of Radford, Virginia. For a full report on the tour, click here.

* Fri Sept 19 2003: gave a class at the School of Music, Faculty of Law, Business and Arts, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, and assisted with the public performance of three pieces of mine: White Knight & Beaver, for clarinet (Ros Dunlop) & guitar (Adrian Walter), Tekee Tokee Tomak, for clarinet & CD-ROM, and the premiere of Weapons of Mass Distortion, also for clarinet & CD-ROM.

Weapons of Mass Distortion uses photographs by George Gittoes and others, and cartoons by Steve Bell, Alan Moir, Peter Nicholson and others. It was composed with financial assistance from the Music Board of The Australia Council.

* Thurs Aug 28 2003: participated in a symposium at the University of Western Sydney called "War and Creativity", which focused on East Timor; discussed creative responses to the current world situation and presented the East Timor and Afghanistan multimedia pieces with, again, Ros and Julia.

* Sun Aug 24 2003: presented several works (Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, Tekee Tokee Tomak and Merry-Go-Round) as part of Refugees Day at St John's Community Church, Darlinghurst, Sydney, with Ros Dunlop and Julia Ryder.

* Sat Aug 16 2003: did a concert at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, with Ros Dunlop (clarinet) and Julia Ryder (cello). Called SNAP!, the concert was part of the Conservatorium's Festival of Music. We presented X, Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, Merry-Go-Round and Tekee Tokee Tomak plus some klezmer pieces and a selection from Morton Gould's Benny's Gig.
* June 17 2003: began shooting a silent film, Dirty Dan the Pump-Out Man, the premiere of which happened on Aug 2 2003 at Buster Keaton Goes to Timor, an East Timor fund-raising event in Upper River Hall, Kangaroo Valley. Pianist Robert Constable accompanied this - brilliantly - as well as various Buster Keaton silent films. A resounding success, the event was SOLD OUT! E-mail comments received after the event included:

It really was quite amazing. The creativity was striking ... the night was a tour de force of cooperative creativity - incredible when one reflects that the whole night emerged from the human mind ... ideas and energy ... it was brilliant to assimilate the KV community into Keaton's slapstick. I loved the written quips between scenes and the masterstroke of fusing film and reality ... plus the plus of live music. Terrific to make it an annual event.


Terry, the dummies were just incredible ... such a lot of work and spectacular results. Martin, who'd have thought such a creative mind could not only direct but pull off such a smooth and well-oiled performance? The bats were a touch of genius and trained in such a short time. It all went so well and was such a pleasure to sit back and watch. And Peter, such profound and provoking words ... I recognized your genius all over that dirty movie. Congrats to you all. Laugh? Thought I'd never stop ...

* Sat June 14 2003: wrote and performed a 50th birthday song for Chris Nobel and her twin brother Ross (singer/songwriter/composer/keyboardist extraordinaire), Kangaroo Valley Hall, Kangaroo Valley; lyric by Peter Wesley-Smith

* June 10 2003: ABC-FM played my children's song Noises [lyric by Peter Wesley-Smith]. The station now regularly plays children's songs of mine recorded by The Song Company.

* June 1 2003: accepted an appointment as a Patron of A Just Australia - Australians for Just Refugee Programs

* Sun May 11 2003: received an e-mail from Noel Ancell, Artistic Director of the Australian Boys Choral Institute, saying that the Australian Boys Choir and The Vocal Consort performed the complete Who Killed Cock Robin? in a concert of Australian choral music at the Iwaki Auditorium of the ABC's Southbank Centre in Melbourne on Saturday May 10:

it went very well and was much enjoyed by the audience (and the choirs, of course!)

* Tues May 13 2003: gave a lecture on Quito for the Music Department, University of Sydney; subsequently received this from one of the students:

I found your lecture/demonstration inspiring and informative. I really liked your use of mixed media - you use it well to put your message across ... since then I have been listening to the Tall Poppies CD of Quito and I am finding it ... just amazing. On first listen I was surprised (the use of electronic media and samples, the 'odd' harmonies/chord choices ...) and I gradually eased myself into it. Now I am enthralled and moved by this work.

* Have received a grant from the Music Board of the Australia Council to compose a multimedia work for clarinet or marimba & CD-ROM; called, tentatively, Weapons of Mass Distortion (working title), and using images from far and wide, especially photographs by George Gittoes, it is due to be finished by Sept 18 2003 to be premiered in Darwin.

* May 2003: received an e-mail from a Sydney secondary school teacher:

One of my Year 12 students has submitted an essay describing characteristics of a purported work by you called XXXX composed 1997 for flute and stripper. I have been unable to find any mention of this work on the AMC site or indeed your own website.

Er, not my piece, I'm afraid! Sounds like a great idea, though - if anyone knows of a suitable stripper interested in a lowly-paid (i.e. "art") gig, let me know and I'll start on the music rightaway.

later: since then I've been informed (thanks, Janet!) that XXXX is a work by Australian composer Stephen Cronin, it's for singer (male or female) and flute, and it was performed at the 1999 Australian Flute Convention by Robert Dick and Kathleen Gallagher (Kathleen has played my piece Balibo).

* Thurs April 10 2003: gave a concert, with Charisma, of Merry-Go-Round and Tekee Tokee Tomak, and pieces by Morton Gould, Hindemith, Steve Ingham & Howard Skempton, at Tap Gallery, 1/278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst, Sydney. Went well.

* Thurs March 27 2003: gave a talk, with Peter Wesley-Smith, to a group of people in Newcastle, New South Wales, who are interested in setting up an organisation similar to the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership, which Peter and I both support.

kv-rp logo

Interested in supporting East Timor? Cash donations, proceeds from fund-raising events, and musical instruments, are urgently needed and will be greatly appreciated (send to Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership, PO Kangaroo Valley NSW 2577 Australia). For more information, contact Libby Turnock on 02 4465 1357 or by e-mail.

* March 24 2003: gave a concert and discussion at Newtown High School for the Performing Arts, Mon March 24 2003, with clarinettist Ros Dunlop and cellist Julia Ryder; the program included Tekee Tokee Tomak and Merry-Go-Round.

* Tues March 11 2003: gave a composition class at SCEGGS (Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School), Redlands; from SCEGGS:

Just a note of thanks for the other day. The students really enjoyed it and it opened up their thinking in many ways, both technically and in the power of music to express ideas.

* Thurs March 6 2003: gave a talk - Social Awareness Through Music - delivered to Kincoppal School's School Assembly, Sydney; Ros Dunlop and I presented Tekee Tokee Tomak and the first section of Merry-Go-Round. I am enormously impressed by this Catholic girls' school's commitment to confronting and discussing major world issues and the support it has shown to various disadvantaged groups, including the people of East Timor.

* Jan-Feb 2003: embarked on a concert tour of the UK and Hong Kong with clarinettist Ros Dunlop (see report). We presented concerts, master classes etc in Manchester, Kent, Reading, Liverpool, Glasgow, Oxford, Kingston, York, London and Hong Kong. Before returning to Australia, I taught for three days at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, where the excellent composition course is run by Clarence Mak. Three of my East Timor audio-visual pieces were performed on the tour - X, Welcome to the Hotel Turismo and Tekee Tokee Tomak - plus a clarinet-only version of Merry-Go-Round.

From William Brooks, University of York, Feb 26 2003:

a fine show, provocative and skilled, and there have been ongoing mutters amongst the postgrads about art, politics, propaganda, and The Whole Damn Thing ever since you left

from a review of our London concert by Carmel Budiardjo:

The clarinetists Ros Dunlop and Natascha Briger performed superbly well and the combination of sound and visuals worked extremely well in helping to give the compositions greater depth and to appeal to a very mixed audience ... artistically rewarding and a powerful tribute to the courageous people of East Timor.

click here for a review of this concert in Clarinet & Saxophone journal

* Jan 2003: completed Tekee Tokee Tomak, for clarinet & CD-ROM, with images taken in East Timor by various photographers including Ros Dunlop, Kathryn Morgan, Alice Wesley-Smith and Martin Wesley-Smith, was premiered in Manchester, England, in January 2003. It has since been performed many times, by clarinettist Ros Dunlop, in other parts of England, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Sydney and the USA.

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* 2002, November: embarked on a concert tour, with Ros Dunlop and cellist Julia Ryder, to three towns (Leichhardt (Sydney), Mittagong and Kangaroo Valley) in New South Wales, Australia, which raised over AUD3,000 to assist the people of East Timor through Leichhardt Council's Maliana project (providing books for a library in Maliana, East Timor) and the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership. See report here.

* Sat Oct 26 2002: True, for soprano, choir, flute & piano [2002], commissioned by the Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire, was premiered by them at Llewellyn Hall, Canberra; text by Peter Wesley-Smith. The first performance has been released on CD - for information, or to purchase, email the Qwire, or leave a message on their voicemail (+61 [0]2 9294 4234), or send AUD15 per CD, plus AUD4 postage (AUD6.50 for two or more CDs), to the Canberra Gay & Lesbian Qwire, PO Box 3095, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia. See libretto.

* Oct 14 2002: Ros Dunlop (clarinet/bass clarinet) and Julia Ryder (cello), who perform together as the duo Charisma, performed my multimedia piece Merry-Go-Round, for clarinet, cello & computer, in Weimar. On the same tour they performed it, plus a selection of other multimedia pieces of mine (Tekee Tokee Tomak, Welcome to the Hotel Turismo and X), in Darmstadt (Oct 13), at the Community College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, USA (Sept 28), in Gent (Oct 10), Amsterdam (Oct 9), Berlin (Oct 7), at the Academy of Music in Vilnius, Lithuania (Oct 1), and at the Community College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, USA (Sept 28).

* Sat Oct 19 2002: The Australia Ensemble played my piece db, for flute/alto, clarinet, piano & cello, at the Clancy Auditorium, University of New South Wales. See here ("Martin Wesley-Smith's high-spirited, fleet and agile db begins the program as an upbeat tribute to the late Don Banks, an Australian composer who was also a vital influence on other composers.")

* Sat Aug 10 2002: I joined Charisma (clarinettist Ros Dunlop and cellist Julia Ryder) to present Merry-Go-Round at Sydney College of the Arts. The previous day we did it at Eora College, Sydney.

* July 2002: presented a concert at the Charles Darwin University, Darwin, then - again - toured East Timor, with clarinettist Ros Dunlop. We gave concerts in Dili, Laga, Lospalos and Same.

* July 2002: Kolele Mai, for solo classical guitar [2002], based on an East Timorese folk song and commissioned by Tim Kain, was premiered by him at the 2002 Darwin International Guitar Festival, Darwin.

* March 2002: presented a concert at the Charles Darwin University, Darwin, then toured East Timor, with clarinettist Ros Dunlop. An amazing experience! We gave several concerts in Dili, one in Ermera, and one in Hato Bulico at the foot of Mount Ramelau, which we climbed the next day.

* Also premiered at the 2002 Darwin International Guitar Festival, Darwin: Merry-Go-Round, for clarinet, cello & computer [2002], using photography taken in Afghanistan by Australian artist George Gittoes and images of performance artist Hollie-Berrie taken by Alice Wesley-Smith. The performers were Charisma (Ros Dunlop, clarinet, and Julia Ryder, cello), who had commissioned the piece, which concerns, in part, the plight of Afghan and other asylum-seekers seeking refuge in Australia.

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* 2001, November: Thank Evans (Australian Foreign Policy and East Timor, 1975-1999), commissioned by The Australian Boys' Choral Institute, was premiered by The Australian Boys Choir in Melbourne. Text by Peter Wesley-Smith.

* Oct 2001: premiere of Black Ribbon, a federation piece for six singers, choir & orchestra [2001], commissioned and performed by The Canberra Choral Society with The Song Company as soloists and Roland Peelman conducting. Text by Peter Wesley-Smith. Some of the individual songs from this piece (e.g. Black Ribbon and Mabo) are available for voice and piano. See libretto.

* August 2001: The Knight's Gambit (from Boojum!), a song cycle arranged for five singers & orchestra [2001], was performed in the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, by the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra conducted by Simone Young. Text by Peter Wesley-Smith.

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* 2000, November: produced a concert in the Sydney Town Hall for the visiting East Timorese choir Anin Murak. Support items included David Pereira playing Welcome to the Hotel Turismo. I also assisted with the choir's concert in Kangaroo Valley Hall.

* Oct 14 2000: premiere of fin/début by The Australia Ensemble at the Clancy Auditorium, University of New South Wales:

This is our millenium program. Each of the three works that appears here was composed at the turn of a century. Beethoven's amiable and popular Septet belongs to the period when the 18th century turned into the 19th. Schoenberg's lustrously, perhaps decadently beautiful Transfigured Night (Verklarte Nacht) has been held to be the most vivid example in music of the fin-de-siècle mood discerned in much European art as the 19th century came to a close. Our new piece, Y2K, for the end of this century and the beginning of the new century and millenium has been commissioned from Martin Wesley-Smith, who is quite likely to put a bug in it - remember his transformation of bacteria into musical equivalents in White Knight and Beaver - but who can be relied on, as an exceptionally computer-literate composer, to do so with deliberation and the sense of quick-thinking fun he has shown in The Hunting of the Snark and other well-loved pieces.

from Stumblings in the Dark, by Peter Hollo, Oct 15 2000:

The last piece, written in 2000, was a new commission by the wonderful and delightful Australian composer Martin Wesley-Smith called "fin/début". Commissioned, obviously, to represent in some way the turn of the millenium, the piece combined M W-S's usual humour and cleverness with a beautiful maturity that really impressed and moved the listeners (at least those with open enough minds). The last movement was multi-media, with a CD-ROM playing a beautifully vocodered computer voice and animated text on a screen behind the players; there was frequent quotation from both the previous works among many others ...

As well as being a fantastic composer (one of my favourite Australian composers, along with Nigel Westlake) and a pioneer of computer music in Australia (he was using Fairlight synthesisers - really early digital sampling musical instruments - way back in the '70s, and founded the seminal computer music/audio-visual group watt in 1976), Martin is a tireless campaigner for a free East Timor. He and his two brothers (Peter, a lawyer and law scholar who writes or co-writes dazzlingly witty, clever and poignant librettos for Martin, and Rob, a political activist and agricultural scientist) have been involved with human rights campaigning in East Timor since the mid-'70s, well before it had any mainstream media attention; they also direct their considerable talents and energy to environmental causes and other human rights issues ... Totally legendary family. Go check out Martin's webpages and buy his CDs!

* Sept 15 2000: presented, in City Hall, Hong Kong, a concert of computer music (including X and the first performance of the multimedia version of Welcome to the Hotel Turismo) as part of the 2000 Musicarama festival.

* Aug 12 2000: premiere of audio version of Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, for cello & computer, Sydney Spring Festival, The Studio, Sydney Opera House, played by Australian cellist David Pereira. This was commissioned by Tall Poppies Records. Other works on the program: Onomatopoeia, for cello & delay, by Nigel Westlake, Requiem, for solo cello, by Peter Sculthorpe, and Inner World, for cello & tape, by Carl Vine.

* June 24 2000: The Song Company sang my song To the Next Ten Years at the Le Meridien Hotel, Sydney, commemorating Roland Peelman's ten years' musical direction of the group.

* Thurs May 11 2000: performance of Brother Jack, for piano (four hands), played by Daniel Herscovitch and Gerard Willems, in the Recital Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

* March 29 2000: The Song Company performed Quito in City Hall, Hong Kong.

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* 1999, Oct 14: the following appeared on, posted by Caius Marcius:

As a life-long fanatical admirer of Lewis Carroll, I at one time thought David Del Tredici to be the very model of a musical Carrollian, until I came across the music of Martin Wesley-Smith. I still enjoy Del Tredici, but Wesley-Smith *is* Lewis Carroll. Boojum! is perhaps the finest example of psycho-bio-musical theatre that I know. Its insights into Carroll's (split!) personality are astonishingly complex: in particular, the dramatization of the photo sessions with the nude Alice vividly portrays the spiritual purity of Carroll's quest for what many today automatically assume must have been the mere creation of kiddie porn. And if librettist Peter Wesley-Smith's dazzling wordplay isn't quite on the same level as Carroll's: that's sort of like criticizing a composer for writing at the level of Mendelssohn rather than Mozart.

click here for the Boojum! web-site

* Oct 8 1999: The Song Company sang several songs from Quito plus a new song, After the Storm, and an arrangement of Feelings as General Wiranto wished he'd sung it, in an East Timor Benefit Concert in the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. In addition, Kathleen Gallagher performed, with passion and great skill, a cut-down version of Balibo for flute & CD.

* Saturday Aug 28 1999: X, for clarinet and CD-ROM, was given its first performance by American clarinettist F. Gerard Errante at a concert sponsored by the Korean Electro-Acoustic Music Society, Seoul Arts Centre, Seoul, Republic of Korea, as part of "The 6th Computer Music Festival in Seoul".

* Aug 21 1999: The Song Company performed Quito in Cascais, Portugal, after performing it in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 16. They were, as usual, in great voice, drawing most appreciative responses from its audiences.

They had previously performed it in Belgium, Denmark, Holland and Sydney.

To listen to them sing Oh Lord (1.4 MB), from Quito, click here.

* July 31 1999: Boojum! was performed by the Newcastle University Choir, Great Hall, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales. Excellent performance! The choir-members poured their heart and soul into it, and it was enthusiastically received by the audience. My thanks to all involved in this splendid production.

* July 16 1999: I gave a paper (A Computer Music Studio in Dili), and presented my piece X at a conference on East Timor (East Timor: the Cultural and Social Questions, hosted by the Faculty of Education and Languages, University of Western Sydney Macarthur) in Parliament House, Sydney.

* May 4 1999: premiere of Manners for Men, for soloist, school choirs, piano (four hands), organ & percussion, performed by MLC School , Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. My thanks to all involved, especially Director of Music Karen Carey, conductor Mark Scott, and soloists Germaine Chau and Naomi Bourke. MLC School at Burwood, Sydney (Mrs Barbara Stone, Principal), is to be congratulated not only for putting on a major concert consisting entirely of new and recent Australian music but for doing it so superbly. Other Australian composers represented were Ross Edwards, Percy Grainger, Matthew Hindson, Ian Munns, Rachel New, Susie Park, Bruce Rowland, Peter Sculthorpe, Douglas Simper, Paul Stanhope and Carl Vine.

* Easter, 1999: my piece Balibo, for flute and tape, was used as a competition piece at the Australian National Flute Convention in Brisbane (a CD of a Geoffrey Collins performance of this piece is available from Tall Poppies Records, a company which also sells CDs of several other pieces of mine - see discography). I wrote the following note for the competition program:

Since I composed Balibo in 1992, there have been two Australian Government enquiries - headed by former National Crime Authority chairman Tom Sherman - into the 1975 killings of journalists Gary Cunningham, Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie, Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart in Balibo, East Timor. The first, in 1996, led the Indonesian Government to comment that the report vindicated its position that the journalists were killed in the heat of battle. Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, described the report as the most comprehensive analysis possible and declared the issue closed. New evidence, however, forced the enquiry to be re-opened. In his second report, delivered in February this year, Mr Sherman found that the troops responsible for the killings were led by Yunos Yosfiah, now Indonesia's information minister. He failed, however, to change his original finding that the journalists had been killed in battle.

Before the second enquiry, former Australian Consul in East Timor, Jim Dunn, wrote that it had to be a fresh start, be undertaken by jurists not linked in any way with government or the public service, and that it be comprehensive. The role of Australian governments and politicians, as well as of ABRI (the Indonesian military), had to be exposed and analysed. But it was not a judicial inquiry (which would have given Sherman the power to subpoena witnesses), and the Indonesian Government refused to co-operate, so it was not surprising that the truth remained hidden. Greens Senator Bob Brown rejected the report out of hand, saying that Australia must force Indonesia to support an open and independent inquiry.

I think it most likely - bloody obvious, in fact - that the journalists were murdered to prevent them telling the world about Indonesia's invasion of East Timor. But no Australian government - from Whitlam's to Howard's - has ever complained to Indonesia. Had a vigorous protest been made at the time then the full-scale invasion of East Timor, and the deaths of up to 300,000 Timorese, and of at least 30,000 Indonesian soldiers, might never have occurred.

* March 13 & 14 1999: premiere of new version of Pip!, a children's piece arranged for narrator/singer/actor and orchestra, played by Monica Trapaga and the Sydney Youth Orchestra conducted by Roland Peelman, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. [This piece was recorded by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for CD release on ABC Classics in early 2001, but appears to have vanished. Memo to ABC Classics: "It's now 2004 already ... let's get this thing out there!"].

* Fri March 12 1999: performance of Brother Jack, for piano (four hands), played by Australian Virtuosi (Michael Kieran Harvey and Bernadette Balkus), at The Studio, Sydney Opera House.

Jack Carmody, Sun-Herald (Sydney), March 21 1999:

Martin Wesley-Smith's Brother Jack (1994) is a different matter entirely. It is that true (and therefore welcome) rarity, a genuinely witty piece of music. Its essential material is ... Frere Jacques, which Wesley-Smith has used with an adroit intelligence: most importantly, there's nothing obvious about this music and I don't think I'm bluffing myself when I say his use of this tune has evoked a French elegance and lucidity in the writing.

After a forthright start it acquires an appealingly deliberate springiness: the tonal clarity of the new Australian pianos seemed perfect for this transparent music and the pianists delivered it with relish and flair.

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